What Happens If You Don’t Walk Your Dog? No Pet Should Be Left Alone For Too Long
Owning a dog comes with a lot of responsibility. Dogs are high-maintenance pets who require a lot of time, effort, attention, and patience. They love to be with their humans, whether it's while cuddling, playing, being fed, or simply laying there staring at them while being lazy. Dogs can't be left along for really long periods of time; they're not super self-sufficient, and they basically rely on their owners to live healthy, happy lives. One big part of taking care of a dog is being able to take them on fairly regular walks. Dogs are curious and often energetic, and they love to explore with their owner, even if it's the same route every single time. Unfortunately, not everyone has time to do this every single day. A study from 2016 found that almost 50 percent of pet owners weren't walking their dogs regularly. So what happens if you don't walk your dog? Does it make you a bad pet owner, or is it actually not that big of a deal?
As annoying as it might be, walking your dog is pretty important, and should something you do all the time — like, daily. Of course, it's not always possible to walk your dog for hours at a time every day, and that's OK. But if you can't do it that often, you should be doing it at least a few times a week — and if you can't commit to walking your dog even once a week, then you might want to reconsider getting one as a pet.
We all have days (or weeks) where we're overwhelmed and super busy, and it feels nearly impossible to make the time to take the dog out for a leisurely stroll. But if you neglect a walk too often, your dog is the one who is going to suffer the negative effects... and that's probably not what you want. Here's what happens if you don't walk your dog:
1. They Don't Get Enough Exercise
Dogs need exercise in order to be healthy and happy — and a walk is a great way for them to get exercise. This is especially true if you don't have a backyard where they can run around whenever they want. Vet Street points out that dogs need to be pushed into exercise sometimes, saying, "The problem is that dogs sometimes need as much motivation as we do to exercise. I think most of us would agree that it’s more fun to go for a walk or work out with a friend instead of by ourselves. Our dogs probably feel the same way."
If your dog gets a lot of exercise from playing with you in your yard (remember that dogs don't self-entertain, you need to give them something to do) or at a dog park you take them to regularly, that's great! Maybe you don't need to walk them as often. But if they never really get out of your place, you should definitely make time for a stroll.
2. They Get Bored, Which Leads To Bad Behavior
One of the best things about taking your dog on a walk is that it keeps them entertained. Dogs can easily get bored, and their boredom doesn't just result in them laying around being lazy — it often results in bad behavior. Found Animals says, "Any unwanted behavior that your dog exhibits is often borne of frustration and boredom. A bored dog with energy to burn will find things to do to amuse herself. These things will most likely not amuse you." If your dog chews everything, digs up holes, or just gets into annoying situations, they might need to get their energy out on a walk.
3. They Don't Learn How To Be Social
Another advantage of taking your dog for a walk? They have the opportunity to see and maybe even meet other dogs. If your dog isn't taught to be social, they might not be that friendly to other dogs, which could result in a problem in the future. Animal Foundation says that walking is "a great opportunity to help your dog learn acceptable ways of socially interacting with new animals. It will also help build doggy confidence so your pet will be less afraid to make friends."
Think about like this: if you don't bring a baby around other children or people, they won't learn how to act around other kids, and they might have trouble later in life in school and with friends. Dogs are similar!
4. They Don't Learn About Their Environment
Dogs are naturally curious and want to explore. They can't do that if they're stuck in your house all the time, and after a while, exploring their own yard might get a bit boring. Walking around allows your dog to see, smell, and hear new things, and gives them a chance to learn about their environment. Animal Foundation says, "Your dog is dependent on you to take them out to explore the sights, smells, and sounds of the world, and it's recommended to vary the places you take your pet as much as possible."
5. Their Mind Isn't Kept As Active
Regular walks give dogs much-needed physical exercise, but it's also a mental activity as well. Found Animals says, "A walk around your neighborhood lets your dog have the opportunity to get to know, by scent, the players in his stomping ground, and keeps his mind active — just as important to your dog’s health and happiness as keeping his body in shape."
6. You Don't Take Advantage of Training Moments
If you're struggling to train your dog or teach them certain things, you might want to try more regular walks. Without them, you're missing out on some great training moments. A walk is a good time to work on basic obedience. There are endless opportunities to teach them to sit, look at you, roll over, stay, etc.
7. You Both Miss Out On A Bonding Moment
Dogs love to be active, but they also love to be with you, and a walk combines both of those things. Walking your dog is a great way for the two of you to bond and become closer — and doesn't everyone want that with their pet?